Concussion is a hot topic (that affects both men and women!) across a number of sports at the moment. Recently there have been a number of athletes retiring due to multiple concussions including Steve Devine, Ben Afeaki and Lance Hohaia. Ben Afeaki retired after a third concussion in three years, citing ongoing issues including nausea, ‘fogginess’ and concentration issues.
Concussion is classified as a traumatic brain injury. To label it anything other is to gloss over the severity of this injury. The damage to the brain reduces neural activation; therefore the brain has to work harder to function. As a result, physical or mental exertion before the brain has recovered can lead to post-concussion syndrome or prolonged symptoms. Sustaining another concussion soon after the first (called ‘second impact syndrome’) can cause exponential and permanent damage.
A concussion does not always result in the athlete being knocked unconscious. Common complaints include headaches, visual disturbances (blurred, double vision or difficulty focusing), dizziness, loss of concentration and memory, balance and coordination deficits. Concussion in youth athletes is particularly concerning as their brain is far more vulnerable. The International Rugby Union requires a minimum 3 week stand-down for senior players, and longer for under-19 year old athletes.
Its time to ditch the “get hard” mentality and take control of your wellbeing. If you, your child or someone in the sports team you’re involved in has had a concussion – take control and urge them to seek medical advice. In the first instance a concussion assessment by a Sports doctor/Rolleston central physio is a good place to start.